Next-gen Mazda 3 to debut at 2018 Los Angeles auto show

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Mazda on Thursday provided a glimpse at the next-generation Mazda 3 sedan and hatch and confirmed the reveal for this month's 2018 Los Angeles auto show.

Apart from a teaser photo and video, there aren't any additional new details to go on. However, Mazda has been dropping plenty of hints about its new 3 over the course of the past 12 months.

The Kai concept car (shown below) unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo auto show previews the design and is said to closely resemble the production version. The concept was also built on the new SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture, Mazda's latest modular platform which makes its own debut in the new 3.

The platform is also said to offer improved dynamic performance compared to Mazda’s current design, as well as a quieter, comfier and more refined ride.

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

Mazda Kai concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

The platform also integrates Mazda's new SkyActiv-X engine which promises diesel-like fuel economy but with the cleaner emissions of gas engines. The engine features what Mazda calls Spark-Controlled Combustion Ignition.

The innovation is to ignite a very small amount of gas-air mixture that is injected very close to the spark plug in a high-compression engine. This in turn raises the pressure on the much larger volume of lean gas-air mixture in the rest of the combustion chamber, creating an effective compression ratio high enough to cause that mixture to spontaneously ignite. This lean gas-air mixture is where most of the efficiency gains are made, with Mazda boasting gains of 20-30 percent over a conventional engine with similar performance.

We tested a prototype of the new 3 fitted with the SkyActiv-X engine a year ago. The engine in prototype form featured a displacement of 2.0 liters and a high compression ration of 15- or 16-to-1, and with a bit of mixed driving was delivering close to 40 mpg when equipped with an automatic transmission. Mazda hasn't provided many details on the tech, but at sufficiently high temperatures and low load situations, the lean gas-air mixture is thought to ignite purely from compression, just like in a diesel engine. The spark-less process is generally referred to as Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition, or HCCI for short, and is yet to appear in a production gas engine.

Watch for more on the new Mazda 3 to surface in the lead up to the L.A. auto show which starts November 28. Mazda is also likely to use the show to introduce an updated CX-5. For our complete coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

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